We all live busy lives, and it can be difficult to stay in touch with friends and family members on a regular basis. And yet, research shows that keeping our relationships strong and connecting with others consistently can help boost our happiness, lower our stress levels, and even improve our well-being.

We asked our Thrive Stars for their favorite ways to boost their connections with their loved ones, and we love these tips they shared with us. Which of these ideas will you try?

1. Set aside time to call and check in

“My favorite tip is setting aside 20 minutes each week that you know you can commit to. Make a list of those who have been in your heart and may be going through a difficult time. Call them at a time when they may be available in the evening to let them know you were thinking about them. It’s a way of showing you care and staying connected. You would be surprised how setting aside 20-30 minutes a week to stay connected with loved ones makes a difference.”

––Gwen Cornick, Hampton, VA

2. Send out handwritten cards

“I enjoy connecting with family and friends by sending out cards. Some people feel that the cards are a thing of the past. But for the senior citizens, widowed or those that live alone that are not on social media, receiving the cards is a welcomed surprise. This year, I decided to personalize the card with pictures of my family. It’s been over two years since we’ve seen a lot of family and friends. I was pleasantly surprised when I received personalized cards from two different family members.” 

––Stephanie Corprew, Stafford, VA

3. Organize a family Facetime 

“For me, having one daughter and 7 grandchildren here in the USA and a daughter and 4 grandchildren in England, Christmas morning starts at around midnight, which is 6:00 am in London. We rely on video chat! I get ‘salt’ in a corner so I can watch them all open their presents and then watch them play for a while, then try and get a couple of hours of sleep before we do the same in reverse!! Then, my daughter and family watch the same over here!”

––Andrea Booker, Walmart #6392, Topeka, KS

4. Send a text just to say “hi”

“As a mother of a young man living on his own, I have made a point to send a quick message each day to make sure he knows I love him and if he needs anything I am available for him.” 

––Kristina Meskan, Walmart #4256, Ames, IA

5. Plan a group activity night

“I think just being in the same room with family and friends helps with communication.  Watching movies,  playing music, playing games, TV or board games together is fun.” 

––Gwendolyn Anna, Walmart #4381, Branson, MO